Re: Should we hire this guy?

Subject: Re: Should we hire this guy?
From: Christi <christi -at- sageinst -dot- COM>
To: Dave Neufeld <Dave_Neufeld -at- spectrumsignal -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000 12:07:47 -0700

on 6/5/00 11:31 AM, Dave Neufeld wrote:

I'm leaving my job and we are interviewing for writers. Our stuff is pretty
technical as well (telecom test equipment). However, I am of the opinion
that it is better to get good writing skills up front and teach the
technology (assuming you have the time, which I think we do).

We interviewed two people, one at each end of the spectrum. The "writer"
doesn't have the technical knowledge. We are currently evaluating whether we
think this candidate has the technical capacity to learn the technology. The
"engineer" knows our products and has even used them. However, I was quite
in the samples, however. For example, there were instance where "insure" was
used instead of "ensure". And most of the procedures were in paragraph
format. I asked about the formatting, and the candidate indicated that the
format was somewhat structured by the company, but that it was just fine by
the candidate. Also, passive voice was rampant.
I have spent the last several months cleaning up _exactly_ these kind of
"issues" with the documentation, and I was dreading leaving the position
only to have all of my work completely undone. Luckily, the hiring manager

> Some UNUSUALLY BAD things that scare me:
> -Several common words are repeatedly misspelled, such as "choos",
> "paramaters", "consol", and "immitate"

As someone else pointed out, with current spelling checkers so widely
available, how on earth can someone let a document leave their hands without
at least running a basic check.

> -Frequent use of the future tense; active, present tense is the de facto
> mode of writing user documentation
> -Misused punctuation
> -Many awkward sentences
> -Occasional run-on type sentences
> -Needs to refine level of detail. Should be increased a bit

I suppose these things could be somewhat address by a style guide and a
class. However, I think what would really affect them is editing. Over and
over and over. Do you have that much time?

I'm all for hiring new people. I tend to give them a lot of the "benefit of
the doubt" because I hate the "have to have experience to get a job, but
can't get a job without experience" catch-22. However, you have to evaluate
what exactly you want to have a basis.
Now, it sounds like you have. You want an engineer. Given that, sounds like
you've got a good engineer. And if you are willing to edit him like crazy,
why not?

Christi Carew
Technical Writer

Sage Instruments
Freedom, CA, USA

- Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old
people are works of art.

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